Vancouver: Seawheeze Half Marathon Recap (August 2016)

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Race day! 6AM.

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A lot of entertainment along the way.

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After the finish line, everyone waited on a crowded line to get to the goodie bag and freebies… and of course, the free runner’s brunch!

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Even the brunch line was long.

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We saw the Japadog truck nearby and I realized I didn’t have any Canadian cash, but a stranger overheard us and gave us cash to buy this! She was a fellow Seawheezer from California and didn’t ask for anything in return. She just wanted us to be able to try it because it’s just so good! Thank you!

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After we went back to our Airbnb to rest up, we came back out to the Convention Center for the shuttles to Stanley Park for the Sunset Festival. But on the way, we got another Japadog…

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The croquette was SO good, crispy, tasty sauce, with a hot dog underneath. It was perfection.

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With the Seawheeze band that they put on us at the Expo, we can access the Sunset Festival too.

We got shuttled by old school yellow cheese buses to Stanley Park.

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Once we got in (after we showed them our IDs), there was a huge line forming… to the exclusive store! We had to line up immediately because we wanted to get our sizes. My friend stayed on the line while I explored the vicinity.

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There were lines to get food, but not nearly as crowded as the one for the store.

And beer…

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You’re allowed ONE beer per person. And you were not allowed to bring one back for your fellow runner. It was a safety precaution I guess, but silly.

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The Lululemon brand beer! They have one every year. This year, it’s called the “Courageous Blonde” — it’s very light and didn’t have much depth. Easy drink.

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More photobooths.

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Another yoga session!

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Stanley Park Summer Ale

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Stanley Park pilsner

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Poutine & corn dog!

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And the night ended with a concert.

Now…

Onto my goodies!

The freebies post-race:

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It was kinda annoying how they gave everything one by one. It took so long for everyone to grab everything along the way and people kept crowding around to get their stuff. They should just put everything into the bags ready to be handed out. I really like the runner’s cap, although it’s one size fits all and I feel like my head is on the larger side. It still fits nicely though! The water bottle is plastic, which I’ll probably never use but will sit nicely on my dresser. The sunglasses also. The Saje essential oils are cool, stress relief anyone? Nuun tabs and Kind bars.

What I purchased from the Expo store:

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  • Fast Lane Singlet: $58 CAD
  • Run with the sun tank: $58 CAD
  • Speed Short: $58 CAD
  • Hotty Hot Short: $64 CAD

What I purchased from the Sunset Festival:

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  • Scuba Hoodie III: $138 CAD

“Mission Accomplished”

 

Vancouver: Grouse Grind, Seawheeze Expo (August 2016)

The Seawheeze Lululemon Half Marathon. This is their 5th year! I’ve always wanted to do it & finally got the chance to. First of all, the registration process is intense: You definitely need reliable internet. I was on a computer at work 10 minutes before it opened and clicked into it right away. I got in with no problems, but I read that a lot of people couldn’t get through and had to use different devices to get into the server. Second, because the registration is a year in advance, I took the chance that I could get out of work to go. I had to make a lot of switches with coworkers and it was well worth it. The flight was around $555 but thanks to Chase Sapphire points, it was free!

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Cathay Pacific meals are so good. Smoked salmon mmm.

I took a late flight and got into YVR at 1am.

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At YVR. Jellyfish!

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Because my Airbnb check-in wasn’t until 10AM, I looked for a place in the airport to sleep until 6 or 7am to go into the city. The security guards approached me when I tried to relax on a bench inside the baggage claim area (I read some forums saying it’s possible to sleep there, but it was quite noisy and bright anyway) so I left to go to the departures area.

Going through customs was easy; they use kiosks and there weren’t many people getting in that late/early so I finished in 5 minutes.

It was actually dim and quiet at Departures, so I was glad I came here. I walked around both floors just to check it out, and a LOT of people were sleeping! I was lucky to have found one bench that was clean and available… right across from this random stranger lady who didn’t seem to care about her luggage being stolen while she napped:

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At around 6 or 7AM, I woke up and washed up in the bathroom and went to take the train to the city:

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From the airport, you can take the skytrain which was SO easy.

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I bought a compass card ($6 CAD) because I figured I’ll come back to Vancouver. Also, I wanted to be able to reload easily. But you can also just buy a single-fare ticket. I bought a day pass which was $14.75 from the airport (there’s a $5 surcharge for buying it here) but would’ve been $9.75 from other stations.

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I stopped in Richmond for breakfast at a HK diner I visited last time called Lido. After I got off the Skytrain, I took a bus to get there. Buses in Vancouver tell you what the next stop is, unlike some buses in New York where you have to guess when you can get off (and risk getting off too early or too late). T-mobile lets you use data and texting for free in Canada, so I relied on my phone for maps and directions.

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Vancouver is so green.

Nothing was opened at this hour (9AM). The Aberdeen Centre opens after 10AM, so I was sad that I had to leave but I had to meet the Airbnb guy for keys. So I took the Skytrain to downtown… to West End.

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Colorful neighborhood. Lots of pride.

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This was a great location. 20 minute walk to the Convention Center, 5 minute walk to the beach and Granville Island ferry.

After I got settled in, I headed out for coffee:

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Honolulu Coffee — their hawaiian latte was so good, coconuty but not overpowering.

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Matcha mousse was also delicious.

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Canada Place. From here, you can see the mountains!

After circling for half an hour, I finally asked for directions to take the Seabus across. You have to go to “The Station”:

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I used my compass card with the daypass to take the SeaBus to Lonsdale Quay. It took about 15 minutes.

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This is also how you would get to Capillano Suspension Bridge and Lynn Canyon. But that’s for next time!

The SeaBus is just a small boat — sit next to the windows for great views. After that, I took the 236 bus to go to Grouse Mountain. They do offer shuttles from downtown to Grouse, but you have to purchase a package that cost about $50 (includes the ride up and down the mountain). I wanted to hike up the mountain, so it wouldn’t be worth it.

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The Grouse Grind, notorious for its 2,830 flight of stairs. It wasn’t bad because there were tall trees for shade and some benches along the way. I stopped to take water breaks. I did not bring enough water.

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I liked that there were clear markers and signs that tell you how far along you are. Especially when it says 39/40:

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The 2nd half of the hike seemed easier and the numbers advanced much quicker.

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Finally reached the top! This is where you can purchase the gondola ride ($10 CAD) down — they won’t let you hike down yourself because it’s so steep, although I did see a few people do so.

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There is also a smoothie place inside and a gift shop. I walked around the perimeter before heading inside.

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I got a smoothie and bought my gondola ticket — then had to wait on a long long line to go down! There were tons of people who just took the gondola up and spent time there, and only a few who attempted the Grind, so everyone happened to leave at the same time!

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The ride down was pretty cool. Great view. It only took 5 minutes to get down.

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After I took the bus, back on the SeaBus again.

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I walked to Guu Original Thurlow (Yelp review here)

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After dinner, I headed back to nap before my friend arrived on a late flight. We had to wake up at 4AM for the exclusive Seawheeze Lululemon shop…

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We got there around 5:15AM and the line wrapped around and around and around and around… to the back of the Convention Center. We expected this already — the first person on the line had been there since 11AM the previous day. We were not about to do that. People had sleeping bags and chairs.

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We watched the sunrise and made friends with people on the line.

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The line behind us.

After we got inside the Convention Center, we still had a long line to the showroom. As soon as we were allowed in (they let a number of people in at a time), we ran in and grabbed everything off the shelves. They organized by size, so I ran straight to size 6 and 4.

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We made a big pile in the middle of the floor like everyone else did, and started to sort through them.

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The checkout line.

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There were entertainment while you wait to check out.

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There were lots of freebies too.

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Free hair braiding… but long lines. I braided my own hair.

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Nooner yoga. They did not provide mats (only a few to be borrowed) but I brought my own travel mat (free from Athleta from Times Square yoga years ago — felt blasphemous at a Lululemon event).

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Freebies at yoga. Inside were some oils for headache and to relieve muscle tension.

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Free manicures but also very long lines. I already had gel on.

After that, we walked to Marutama Ramen! (Yelp review here)

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EGG SO GOOD

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After we got back to the Airbnb and dropped off our stuff, we decided to nap and go to Granville Island via the ferry. It was only a couple of dollars to go across! And you can buy roundtrip to save money.

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This is my 2nd time at Granville Island, they have a lot of gelato stores so we just had to.

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I saw standup paddleboarders! They were kneeling and paddling.

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We went back to the Convention Center for Sunset Yoga to end the night. Next day: Seawheeze Half Marathon! Stay tuned.

 

 

Travelogue: Driving from Vancouver to Seattle to Portland (June 2015)

On the second leg of our PDX-SEA-YVR trip, we drove from Vancouver to Seattle, stopped for a bit and drove back to Portland.

We started off with Vancouver dim sum, which is a MUST. Fisherman’s Terrace is inside the Aberdeen Centre (aka Asian mall) and has some of the best shrimp rolls ever. I really wish New York dim sum could live up to this standard. Maybe in 10 more years.

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You check off a list of dim sum and they bring it to you, fresh. Yes, you can opt for an English list, but I wanted to show off my Chinese.

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The pictures could’ve turned out better, but I was in a hurry to devour.

After a long (but tolerable) queue at the border line, we were back in America.

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The creamiest, best blueberry ice cream exists in Bow, Washington at Bow Hill Blueberry (and I thought I had the best in Maine; I was wrong). It was a random sighting of a blueberry farm — I love exploring the country this way.

We got to Taylor Shellfish Farms in Bow. Also amazing because you get to shuck your own oysters here.

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One of the freshest oysters we’ve had on this trip. They’ve converted me into a West Coast oyster lover. So creamy, so meaty.

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After we shuck them, we chuck them. Really. Into the ground below us.

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Plenty of outdoor seating and picnic tables.

Back in Seattle, we had to try Din Tai Fung as it’s so wildly raved about.

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I was a bit disappointed with the soup dumplings because they’re hyped up to be the best. Yes, the skin was really thin and they were tasty, but there wasn’t enough soup in there for me. The crab meat did not distinguish itself amongst the pork, and we compared it with the ones with plain pork inside.

BUT — everything ELSE was really good!

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Was it worth a 1-hour wait? Perhaps. There’s nothing to do nearby though, since it’s inside a mall (Bellevue location). So we spent some time playing shooting games at Dave & Buster’s.

Back to Portland.

The BEST brunch of the trip at Screen Door!!! (Yes, three exclamation points)

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That was the best fried oyster benedict I’ve ever had. I used to think NOLA was great for fried oysters but WOW THESE ARE HUGE! It came with 3 fried oysters and 2 poached eggs on top of bacon and toasted english muffins. It was perfect.

Of course, it was an hour wait on a Saturday for 2. Like every other brunch place in Portland.

Also, $2.50 for unlimited Stumptown coffee is great.

After unlimited coffee, we had more coffee.

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Coava Coffee Roasters.

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We ended the trip with more food.

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Nong’s Khao Man Gai. Their KMG sauce is goooooood. The dish didn’t blow my mind or anything, but it was some good juicy tender chicken.

Anddddd that was it! It took me almost half a year to finish blogging about this trip. There were lots of good eats, coffee, and nature. I’m sure I will be back.

Travelogue: Vancouver, British Columbia (Part 2)

We started off the morning with breakfast. Lido has the best bolo bao (菠蘿包) AKA pineapple buns — WITH BUTTER.

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Then we drove about an hour+ to Squamish to hike the Stawamus Chief.

The Stawamus Chief is a granite dome located adjacent to the town of Squamish, British Columbia. It towers over 700 m (2,297 ft) above the waters of nearby Howe Sound. It is often claimed to be the “second largest granite monolith in the world”. (Wiki)

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Shannon Falls.

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It was a strenuous hike, but the view was amazing. The water was a color I had never seen before. These pictures can’t capture the beauty that only exists in my memory now.

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Famished, we went to Guu with Garlic for some Japanese tapas:

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The menu

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We sat at the bar where we could see everything they were making.

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Ramune soda brings back childhood memories.

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Uni!

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Miso black cod

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They make the best eggplant ever.

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Grownup’s melon soda float. (alcoholic)

Richmond Night Market! (They only run in the summertime on weekends) We were lucky to have picked a hotel that was right across the street. So many vendors, so much food!

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So. Much. Food.

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Mango everything.

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Travelogue: Vancouver – Part 1 (June 2015)

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From the previous post, the sunset from BC ferry (From Victoria to Vancouver).

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Stanley Park — like Central Park of NYC, lots of biking and scenic views of water and trees.

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Spent the morning at the park and went to the Lululemon Lab (pictures were prohibited) — got hungry and ate at the nearby Benkei Ramen:

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After lunch, we went to Aberdeen Centre in Richmond — an Asian shopping mall with a food court.

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I love mango drinks.

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My loot from a candy store.

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Really wanted to try these sushi but was too full…

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Next, we drove to Granville Island, which has a ton of shops and food. In Vancouver, you never stop eating.

We came here for one thing: The Lobster Man.

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You pick your own oysters, clams, anything you want and they weigh them — at great prices!

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We walked around the island some more.

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Back at the hotel, we shuck our own oysters.

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We also got live spot prawns.

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From our hotel, we saw the sun set and also to the right (not pictured) was the Richmond Night Market setting up for the next day (for the next post!) — I was pleasantly surprised that it was happening right across from where we were staying.

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At night, we went to Ho Yuan Kee for the famous Vancouver crab with sticky rice. To be honest, I’ve had better in NYC. This was a full day of nonstop eating…

Travelogue: Victoria, British Columbia (June 2015)

Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, Canada, and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada’s Pacific coast. From Port Angeles (Washington), we took the car ferry there. I reserved ahead of time here. Sailing time is 90 minutes. You just park your car and sit upstairs or you can walk around and take pictures.

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We arrive in downtown, Victoria, right by the water and close to Chinatown and the Parliament building.

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It’s pretty cool that there are houses right on top of water.

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Fan Tan Alley in Chinatown.

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The Empress Tea Room – I made a reservation ahead of time for afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress. We got a table by the window and I loved the whole experience. They treat you like royalty.

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The sandwiches were delicious!

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At the end, they gave us tea to bring back home.

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The Parliament Building.

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We bought a Groupon deal for half off admission to the Butterfly Garden — well worth it. You’re free to roam around and see butterflies up close.

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Right near the Butterfly Garden is Butchart Gardens. At this point, I had gone to so many botanical gardens that I didn’t find this extraordinary. However, it was still a nice place to visit and take a stroll through its many gardens.

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Prettiest garbage can ever.

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After that, we took the car ferry to Vancouver. This time, we took BC ferries from Swartz Bay (Victoria) to Tsawwassen (Vancouver). This ferry had more food and gift shops for you to enjoy, and even a cafeteria. You can reserve here. Make sure to check their schedules and time it so that you can enjoy a full day at Victoria. We got to see the sunset when we arrived in Vancouver.